A few years ago, I saw a meme that said, “When you see something that disgusts you, say, a worm or a lizard, and you want to kill it, just pause and make a Disney movie in your head from its point of view.” Or something on those lines. And for some godforsaken reason, that meme has remained etched in my head from that day.
Initially, I didn’t think of it much. But it was one of those thoughts that become louder and louder as years pass by. Now, it’s just messed my mind up badly. I think from every animal’s point of view, and since it’s a Disney movie in my head, everything is hopelessly cute, even a snake, even a worm. Every animal has a family, a child with an adorable baby voice and big eyes, waiting for Daddy Worm to come home. To give you a perspective, I make a Finding Nemo movie out of every animal’s life.
Looking at it from this point of view has made me think a hundred times before doing anything. Before I sit on the ground, I look for ants to make sure there are none. Before I pour water into a plant, I make sure there aren’t any catterpillars on it. If there’s a spider web in my room, I let it be. If a rat scuttles by me, I don’t mind. If a mosquito bites me, I le- ok no, mosquitoes gotta die. Every single one of them.
Anyway, it’s all right with me that I don’t want to cause harm to these beings. But what’s getting to me is that if I harm some living thing by mistake, I won’t hear the end of it from my brain. My mind tortures me about it for hours. The other day, I was doing the dishes, and just as a poured water into the sink, I noticed a small insect in the sink and before I could do anything, it got washed away and went right through the drain. I got into its head for ten seconds, I got flushed down a dirty black pipe. I grew depressed and shed a tear for it. Another time, I injured a big black ant by mistake and broke one of its legs. Immediately, I went into the ant’s head and saw a huge, monstrous me, out to finish the world, raising its hand and breaking its leg.
Clearly, I don’t know where to draw the line.
For instance, when the beef ban was announced in Maharashtra, I was celebrating like never before. But then, I read this article yesterday about how the economy of the country will be affected and how many people will be left unemployed. On the other hand, I read this article about how eating less meat is the best way to tackle climate change and saw this effective campaign by models in China fighting for animal rights. After reading these, I didn’t know what to think.
There are many other things that add to this mind-boggled state of mine. My colleague, Vivian, was once telling me about sheep and cattle in the Himalayas, and how the shepherds there make a living from their products. When they’re alive, they provide milk, and subsequent milk products, they help control the landscape by grazing excessive vegetation. When they’re dead, their meat is eaten, their wool is used to make warm clothes, their skin is used to make leather, their horns are used for something else. Every body part of the dead animal helps the shepherd make a living. And they’re all well taken care of, as I saw for myself.
I’ve even read a lot of James Herriot, who was a countryside vet. He wrote in one of his books about how a few farmers would weep to send their ageing cattle to slaughterhouses because they were too attached to the animals. This made me realise that a lot of these people don’t want to kill and use these animals just for the heck of it, but they have to make a living out of it.
So I’m left in a very confused state. Is it OK and ethical to breed them, take good care of them and then kill them after they’ve had a good life? Or should I get into the animal’s head and be shocked at wtf is going on when I’m being taken to the slaughterhouse? I’d be enraged if I was the animal and not having my Right to Life. But I’d be equally upset if I was a broke farmer, who couldn’t put bread (or meat) on the table.
One thought that came to my mind when I read the above mentioned article about the beef ban was that it’s ok to have beef. But it’s NOT ok to slaughter them unethically, illegally and heartlessly.
My friend, Sanjana, once did a documentary of illegal cow slaughter in Chennai. Slaughterhouses are supposed to follow a process that involves sedating the animals and then killing them. But none of that happens in most of these butcher shops. They just take the animal to the backyard and chop it’s head off with a blunt knife and most times, the head doesn’t even get chopped off fully. I do not want to be inside that cow’s head, or outside it. Unfortunately, Sanjana witnessed this first hand and was really upset for weeks together.
As you can see, this topic has really put me in a fix and I sure am glad that I’m neither an animal farmer nor someone who makes the rules. Even as a mere onlooker, I’m muddled up.
I’m not arguing for vegetarianism or against meat-eating. That’s a completely different topic. But I just had to put these confused thoughts down.
I wish my mind would stop wandering and entering other being’s heads. Sigh.